It hasn't been till the last couple of months that I have even given a passing thought to JW apologists. As welcome as they are to post their opinions, I am struck by something that I recognize in myself and others as I reflect on my JW past.
Basically, there comes a certain point, where if you are going to stay a JW and you are of a bit more "liberal" mindset, that you will try to change the focus a bit.
I recall this happened to me. As a MS, I was very gung ho for most JW dogma and ways of dealing with people. Slowly though, I "heard" the same JW rhetoric over and over again, and I noticed something: It was very disturbing and cruel. But I ignored it as best I could. I ignored how JW teachings seperated me from an opportunity to help my suicidal (and disfellowshipped) brother, and how that tore apart my parents marriage.
9/11/01. And I heard over and over (and even repeated that day in the car group) "This is what Armageddon is going to look like." The first time I said it, I tried to be a profound leader, as much as a 26 year old elder could be. But my own words caught me, as I watched over and over again exactly what Armageddon was going to look like. Death. Destruction. Pain. Fear.
It occurred to me that this is what JW's teach. And I got a sneak preview.
Frankly, deep down, I never believed in the destruction of 7 billion people so that 7 million people who theoretically "got it right" could survive and clean up the mess for 1000 years. I met so many nice people, I would always tell myself that "Jehovah" couldn't possibly destroy these people. Why should he? Their proof and evidence for their theistic beliefs were exactly the same as mine. Just different interpretation of a very old collection of scrolls.
So how did I handle all of these thoughts rattling around in my head? I tried to soften the image. I tried to highlight a few more attractive teachings floating around in the sewege pit of JW dogma.
After 9/11, I stopped guilting people. Ironically, I stopped having much to do with talks or teaching points having to do with JW prophecy. I say "ironically" because thats all Gilead was about when I finally got there..... It's all so bizzare, weird, to say nothing of the sordid history of JW's continued obsession with trying to figure out the date of Armageddon. They only did that till at last in 1975, (oh wait, 1994 with the change in the 70 year old teaching of a "generation" that saw 1914).
When I talked to people at the door and was exposed to or asked about these very problematic beliefs of JW's, I always tried to change the subject:
"Oh, Jehovah's Witnesses are all about being loving. What you are listening to are lies from disgruntled former members."
"We aren't here to criticize your beliefs. (lie lie lie) Why would you talk about what is not encouraging to me?"
"Jehovah's Witnesses do not have a pedophile problem. We properly take care of any criminals that come our way."
"I know disfellowshipping seems harsh, but its really to protect the congregation from sin. Even if it is a teenage child...."
Later on, I started to get questions and concerns from "weak" ones in the congregation.
"Why can't I talk to my disfellowshipped child? He/She made a mistake, and I can't say anything to them and help them just because they moved out?"
"Why can't I tell others about the pedophile who molested my brothers?"
"I feel horrible. Sister Pioneer thinks I can pioneer. But I have 2 kids, we don't have any money. Why am I made to feel like my 6 hours are not enough to please Jehovah? I do the best I can?"
"Why shouldn't I date this brother/sister? I know he doesn't go out in FS too much, but we get along very well. Why should that matter how much time he puts in service?"
These questions bothered me more and more, because frankly, the questioners were right. My attempts to "soften" the image and rhetoric of Jehovah's Witnesses as an elder rang more and more hollow in my own ears, simply because I knew it wasn't the truth. Jehovah's Witnesses tend to only treat elders, ministerial servants, and pioneers well. Guilt runs this cult like nothing else.
Jehovah's Witnesses in fact have earned every bit of their bad reputation. The only people who seem unaware of it are Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, who are insulated from outside information as best the Governing Body can arrange.
Whether that be to lie about those who leave and try to call them "evil, hateful apostates", or to say that the internet is full of lies about JW's, the GB lies about the outside information that exposes their dogma and their practices.
When faced with this, I for many years tried to change the conversation, change the subject. I knew many nice and loving JW's. Individual JW's are fine. But as a group, as long as you choose to be part of this cult, then you at the very least tacitly give support to
- Insitutionalized shunning, even of minors who were not old enough to make their lifelong committment to the JW organization.
- The suppression of disent, and even open questions of questionable, confusing, and lying JW dogma through disfellowshipping. Admitting that you do not believe that the Governing Body is being used to represent the Faithful and Discreet Slave is enough to get you disfellowshipped unelss you recant. A JW must ALWAY say that the "Faithful Slave" is large and in charge.
- Promoting cult beliefs that all but JW's will be destroyed through a worldwide destruction that will look exactly like 9/11.
- Promote the cult belief that blood medicine in its main components goes against Jehovah's standards due to OT law. This has resulted in thousands of deaths.
- Elders who are under instruction to not report pedophiles in their midst whenever they can get around this
- The indoctrination of their young, who make a lifelong committment that they can never divorice themselves from, even if as adults, they clearly see they were not able to make such a decision. Young people are allowed and encouraged to get baptized at ages as young as 8 years of age and up.
So apologists, continue to try to change the subject, change the conversation. Continue to say that you are allowed to openly question JW beliefs in the congregation. Continue to insist that you are loving, while apostates are not encouraging or loving. I hope you realize that deep down, most lurking JW's reading this realize how not true this is.
Any JW apologist who insists otherwise is really lying to themselves.